'I am pleased to advise you and other New Brunswick public sector unions that this government will not appeal.' - Human Resources Minister Rick Brewer.
Fredericton (21 July 2009) - The New Brunswick government will not appeal a landmark court decision affecting all casual government employees.
The province's Court of Queen's Bench ruled June 17 that the definition of employee in the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) – which currently excludes casual employees – was contrary to Section 2 (d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The section reads:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.
Justice Paulette C. Garnett gave the provincial government "12 months to correct the violation" in the act.
Now, the New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE), which hailed the ruling as "a huge victory" for casual workers, has been advised by the government that it will not attempt to fight the decision.
In a letter to NBUPPE executive director Tom Mann, Rick Brewer, the minister of human resources, writes:
"I am pleased to advise you and other New Brunswick public sector unions that this government will not appeal the decision of Madame Justice (Paulette) Garnett with respect casual workers.
"We will focus now on developing the necessary amendments to the (act) to ensure compliance with the decision."
NBUPPE president Susie Proulx-Daigle had written a joint letter with Mann to Brewer at the end of June asking the government to accept the decision.
"This is an opportunity for a true win-win proposition," their letter said. "Your government could do the right thing for this workforce and affirm the Court of Queen's Bench decision while providing justice to casual workers."
In accepting the union's position, Brewer noted that the government faces "a number of challenges" in implementing the decision during difficult economic times. He requested a meeting with union leaders in early September to discuss the issue.
NBUPPE said when the court decision was released that it represented a major step forward for casual workers.
"In practical terms, all persons employed on a casual basis will be entitled to have all conditions of employment, including health benefits and pension, negotiated on their behalf by their respective unions," the union said.
The challenge was the cooperative effort of NBUPPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE